British Society for Medical
What is Medical Dermatology?
Medical Dermatology might be defined as the study and care of patients with
Skin diseases that can have systemic manifestations including connective
tissue diseases, vasculitis, sarcoid, graft versus host disease and severe drug
Potentially disabling or fatal skin diseases usually treated with systemic
therapy such as severe psoriasis, severe atopic eczema, cutaneous T-cell
lymphoma and autoimmune blistering diseases.
Cutaneous manifestations of systemic disease.
Why do we need a British Society for Medical Dermatology?
UK dermatologists train in general medicine before specialising in dermatology.
Many of us would consider ourselves to be medical dermatologists already, but
dermatology has become increasingly complex and strong sub-speciality interests
have developed including dermatopathology, surgical dermatology, contact dermatitis
and paediatric dermatology. These sub-specialities are well represented in training
programmes. The rise in skin cancer has led to an increasing (and justified) emphasis
on surgical dermatology. But new therapies are changing the practice of medical
dermatology and we can do more for patients with serious skin diseases with systemic
manifestations. Dermatologists must be properly trained to care for these patients. In
order to ensure that medical dermatology retains a place at the heart of our speciality
(and within hospital medicine) and to strengthen links with other medical specialities
we have formed a British Society for Medical Dermatology.
What does the British Society for Medical Dermatology do?
The society aims to strengthen and foster interest in all aspects of medical
Collecting and disseminating information on all matters affecting the safe
practice of medical dermatology, and exchanging such information with other
bodies having similar aims either in the UK or abroad
Providing education in medical dermatology
Promoting and carrying out or assisting in promoting and carrying out
research, surveys and investigations.
Providing guidance on the dermatological content of the core medical
curriculum and the assessment of dermatological knowledge and skills (as
relates to core medical training).
Organising scientific meetings to advance knowledge and practice of medical
British Society for Medical
View from a Trainee
Attendees at the RCP Medical Dermatology meeting in April 2008 discussed forming
a special interest group affiliated to the BAD for those with an interest in medical
dermatology. Trainees gave the idea an enthusiastic reception.
Compelling reasons for the need for such a society were presented by the panel (Dr
Susan Burge, Dr Mark Goodfield, Professor Christopher Griffiths and Professor
Jonathan Barker). If we are to retain our place as a specialty within hospital medicine,
we need to ensure that the services of a skin expert are seen as indispensable to our
physician colleagues, as well as our general practice colleagues. Achieving this
requires effort on the part of the dermatologist - participating in hospital Grand
Rounds, scheduling a weekly consultation ward round of all hospital referrals, and
collaborating with clinics in related specialties such as rheumatology. This is not
always easy, particularly when the dermatology service may not be based at the acute
hospital site. We hope that by creating a specialty group with an interest in the
integration of dermatology with general medicine, we will help to preserve and
promote the role of the dermatologist in hospital medicine.
If dermatology is to continue to attract candidates of a high calibre for specialty
training, we must ensure that exposure to dermatology takes place in the early part of
post-graduate training. With the advent of Modernising Medical Careers, exposure of
Foundation Year and early Specialty Training doctors to dermatology in some regions
has fallen. When this is considered in light of the relatively brief period dedicated to
dermatology in the undergraduate curriculum, there is a grave danger that
dermatology may “fall off the map” of career choices for these young doctors. In
order to attract the best candidates, we need to ensure that the value of dermatology is
recognised in the general medical setting, where all recently-qualified doctors spend
their first years of work.
The Medical Dermatology Society will help to heighten the profile of dermatology
among specialty colleagues. It will provide a forum for discussion for dermatologists
of all grades, who are enthusiastic about the integration of skin and systemic disease.
The annual Medical Dermatology meeting at the RCP is part of the yearly academic
calendar, and is attended by dermatologist and physicians alike. We hope that it will
become a focal point in the year for those engaging in medical dermatology, and those
wishing to learn more about this area.